The artist Jimmie Durham has died aged 81
Jimmie Durham (Houston, 1940 – Berlin, 2021), was a sculptor, essayist and poet who challenged convention and blended political commentary into his practice.
He began working as a sculptor in 1963 and in 1969 he moved to Europe and studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Geneva. Along with three other sculptors he formed the group “Draga”, which researched ways to allow the plastic arts to be more accessible to public life. At the same time, along with a Mapuche Indian from Chile and a Quechua Indian from Bolivia, he formed the organisation “Incomindios”, which attempted to coordinate and encourage support for the struggle of Indians of the Americas.
In 1973, Durham returned to the US to become a full-time organiser in the American Indian Movement (AIM). During this time he served as director of the International Indian Treaty Council and representative to the United Nations. In the early 1980s Durham returned his attention to art in New York City.
In 1987 Durham moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he was based until 1994 when he moved back to Europe. During his time in Mexico, Durham began to exhibit internationally, including at the Whitney Biennial; Documenta IX; ICA, London; Exit Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. He also published a large number of essays in books and periodicals, including Art Forum, the Art Journal and the Third Text. In 1995, “A Certain Lack of Coherence”, a collection of his essays, was published by Kala Press.
Durham has participated in several editions of the Venice Biennale (2019, 2013, 2005, 2003, 2001 and 1999) and of the Whitney Biennale (2014, 2006, and 1993) and took part to the 6th Moscow Biennale (2015); 13th Istanbul Biennale (2013); Documenta 13 and 9 (2012, 1992); and Taipei Biennale (2012); among others.
He was awarded the Robert Rauschenberg Award by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York (2017) and the Goslarer Kaiserring Prize (2016). Jimmie Durham is also the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia – May You Live In Interesting Times (2019).
His recent retrospective “At the Center of the World” (2017-18) travelled from the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, to Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Remai Modern, Saskatoon.